Does ultraviolet radiation improve wine quality?

New Zealand has a reputation of being one of the worst places in the world to get sunburnt, but the ultraviolet radiation that causes it is not all bad news, according to Lincoln University UV expert Brian Jordan.

Ultraviolet radiation levels vary across the earth’s surface, with some sites in the southern hemisphere receiving almost 40 percent more than comparable latitudes in the northern hemisphere.
Professor Jordan said until now UV had only been considered as a damaging radiation, but it was now thought to have a more positive role in plant growth and development.

He said researchers were now looking at whether UV radiation improved the red grape colour and taste of Pinot Noir wine.

“One of the processes that takes place in the vineyard is to remove the leaves. It’s a very common practice and the idea behind that is the removal of the leaves reduces the humidity in the vines and that reduction in humidity is perceived to reduce the disease prevalence. When the leaves are actually removed it actually then leads to higher light and higher UVB reaching the berries, so what we’ve been looking at is to see that effect that extra UVB can have on the berries by chemical composition.